Most of us have dreamed of working from the comfort of our homes, but in reality, it can be a challenge. Even without kids, pets, and our significant others, there are plenty of distractions and inconveniences that can ruin our productivity.
I’ve collected you my best tips in this 4-part series to help you keep your sanity, stay healthy and productive.
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These are some of my best tips that will help you get the most out of the day. They are great if you’re working from home and looking for ways to improve your productivity, but you’ll find them useful in an office environment- especially the first one 😀
If you love the clothes you usually wear at the office, just continue as normal, but usually, this is not the case for people working from home. Most people say ‘dress for success’, but I’m someone who appreciates a comfortable outfit. So here’s my advice ‘Dress close to what you would wear in the office.’
Keep your jewellery and makeup on if you like to wear them and stick to your usual perfume, but maybe switch your jeans to a pair of black leggings. Lose the tie, or wear polo shirts instead of a shirt. The aim is to feel comfortable, but professional and video-chat ready. So surely don’t start your day in your PJs!
You know we should keep our office desk neat and you try at the desired state to leave it at the end of the day… with more or less success. When your office is part of your home, there is no leaving it until tomorrow. The messy desk will mock you all night/weekend. It’s not just annoying, but because it constantly draws your attention to your work area, it also makes it harder to stop thinking about work when you should relax.
Decide what you need – Do you really need 10 blue pens and 3 piles of sticky notes? Have everything around you, that you need, but don’t pile up on unnecessary things.
Find a dedicated space for everything – It makes it easier to clean up and find what you need the next time.
Clean your desk at the end of the day – I always allow myself 1 post it with a note or an open notebook with an important date marked, but everything you won’t need tomorrow morning as you sit down should go back to its own place.
Do you know the feeling when you’re staring blankly at the computer thinking about what you should do next? Or when you have so much to do, that you don’t even know where to start? The solution to these issues can be as simple as a to-do list
Whether it’s a physical list, one created in your Outlook, Sticky Notes or a project management tool…. it doesn’t matter. Pick the one that suits you the best.
Stick to only one tool.
Create a list for each day or week. If you have multiple-day tasks you’re probably better off with a weekly one.
Break large tasks into smaller ones. Eg. instead of ‘new blog post’ divide it into ‘brainstorm topics’, ‘research topic’, ‘write the post’, ‘publish the post’, ‘promote on social media’.
Add deadlines or required time for each element on your list.
Prioritize your tasks!
For someone who always has the most creative ideas at the worst time – like, just before going to sleep or during a call – discovering the brain dump method had been the most powerful revelation of the year so far.
It’s almost impossible to focus on your task if you’re constantly distracted by random thoughts. The ‘brain dump’ is a super simple, yet powerful tool to get a grip on these ad hoc ideas. All you need is paper and a pen.
The next time you have an amazing business concept or cool recipe idea just write it down quickly and move on. This way you can let it go from your mind. Later, at a dedicated time get back to your list, review it and move forward with those that you find worthy.
Put your phone on silent or even airplane mode for certain time periods to minimise destruction and maximise your effectiveness and productivity.
A new like on Instagram, a new Tweet, Pins recommended to you… Does it sound familiar? You can easily lose your focus if your phone is buzzing every 5 minutes and if you go and check every message then you can waste even more time.
Consider turning off some of your notifications, that you don’t need both on your phone and your smartwatch / fitness tracker. Furthermore, put your phone on silent or even airplane mode for certain time periods to minimise destruction and maximise your effectiveness.
Let go of the myth of multitasking! “Research in neuroscience tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. (…) Rather than saving time, it costs time (even very small micro seconds). It’s less efficient, we make more mistakes, and over time, it can sap our energy.”
So instead of wasting your energy and time on rapid refocusing between two things focus your attention on one for better results.
Depending on what you’re working on listening to music can help to keep you motivated and to shut out the noises of your surrounding. For more monotone task you can go for something upbeat and fun, while complex ones might require something more abstract. The goal is to maintain the balance of stimulation without distraction.
To avoid wasting your time searching for the right songs and testing other’s lists I suggest creating your pre-made lists on YouTube or Spotify. Everyone is different so you should find those, that are right for you. I have one with upbeat Hungarian songs, an indie and an electro-swing list, one with meditational songs (in case I’m getting annoyed or angry) and my gym list if I need a boost. I also find video game music (like Crysis and Warhammer) really helpful as these are designed to keep you focused on what you’re doing.
No, I’m not suggesting to eat a bar of chocolate after every email you’ve sent… but what about a 15 min break for meditation after a hard task. Or a nice cup of tea, a stand-up comedy sketch or a little play with the dog. You get the point.
Breaking your day to smaller sections can help you stay focused during the productive periods and will give you a chance to recharge during your break.